Wine tasting in the home of Guinness beer (plus all those amazing Irish craft beers)??? Yes! Dublin has a fair number of places to enjoy a taste, glass, carafe, or bottle of wine. When you are tired of the pub scene or would rather spend your dining out budget on fine wine, here is my list of the top wine bars in Dublin.
The iconic Ely Wine Bar on Ely Place (how convenient!) is the original. In my opinion it is overshadowed by the locations in the Docklands and the IFSC (near the convention centre). It doesn’t matter which you choose since they all follow the same philosophy of good wine and locally-sourced food in an authentic setting.
For wine tasting events, the Ely Bar & Brasserie is the place to be. Walk past their sunny after-work hangout spot and head down to the serene cellar where many of their wine + dinner tastings are held. Led by the expertise of one of their wine buyers, you’ll explore one region in depth with a break between white and red for a well-matched plate of food.
The first time I tasted wine via the hi-tech dispensing apparatus called the Enomatic system I was living in San Francisco. The idea of browsing, paying, and pouring your own wine with a pre-payment card was cool indeed. The Dublin Wine Rooms has this system in place putting you in control of your wine tasting experience. But that doesn’t mean you are on your own. The owners and staff are enthusiastic, helpful, and happy to recommend wines to fit your preferences.
In addition to wine sampling a la carte, they have a dinner menu plus cheese and charcuterie boards. I suggest you reserve a table if you are planning to sit down for dinner.
The growing popularity of KC Peaches means there are now four locations around Dublin, but there is only one wine cave. It is located on Nassau Street across from Trinity College, but many people I’ve talked with are still not familiar with their “wine cave” bar and restaurant. The pleasant staff are always welcoming and will suggest one of their favorites or the wine of the month if you ask.
On many Saturday evenings (schedule may vary so check their Facebook page) live jazz music livens up the setting so book ahead. The innovative food menu offers a variety of small and medium plates that are extremely well-priced as is their wine selections by the glass.
Ask anyone where you can buy missed American and European imported products and the first answer is likely to be Fallon & Byrne. As with many shops in Dublin, it is not just a market but a restaurant, cafe, and wine bar as well. Downstairs is where you go (why aren’t wine bars upstairs ever?) to chill and socialize over a glass of wine or two. It can get a bit loud when busy (try to go earlier in the day), but there is plenty of seating and a huge wine list to choose from.
One tip I was given by a staff member is to order cake or pastries at the cafe on the ground floor where it is on display for your dessert viewing pleasure. Bring it down to the wine cellar an order a glass of your favourite red or white for the ultimate pairing.
Head out to Ballsbridge to see what this tony wine bar, shop, and bistro is all about. Last time I stopped in all the tables were fully booked, but that was alright as my wife and I were only in the mood for a glass of wine at the bar. While we were sitting there people were calling in to reserve a place at the bar, a clear sign of repeat business.
As is the case with many bars in Dublin during the summer months (when we actually have a real summer in Dublin), it get quite warm inside. Wine bars should be air conditioned (IMHO) if they are not naturally cool. Regardless of the weather, the rustic atmosphere enhanced by French music, crusty bread, and an exciting wine list is all that you need for an delightful experience.
While I have trouble spelling the name of this easy to locate wine bar on Exchequer Street (among so many popular restaurants), I have no trouble recommending it for wine. Most recently I attended a wine tasting evening which combined wine humor, generous pours, and insightful wine knowledge. Any other time of the week or day stop in for a glass of wine and a bite of imported cheese, homemade pate, or local meats.
This 2015 addition to the Dublin wine scene is a welcome entry to the list. It is operated and located at Baggot Street Wines, a well-known off-license on (you guessed it!) Upper Baggot Street in Dublin 4 (they stock a terrific selection of craft beers too). I had the opportunity to descend to their basement wine “cavern” and was delighted by the experience.
I don’t agree with the choice of name as it is hardly a cavern, but more of a modern space with plenty of light, garden seating, and comfy couches. The best part is that you can pick out your favourite wine from the shop and enjoy it in the Cavern with only a €5 corkage fee. They also have a full wine list and tasting plates of food if you arrive hungry for a cheese and/or meat board.
When we visited several tables were reserved for the evening, so consider calling ahead as they are quickly becoming a popular wine bar in the neighbourhood.
Many of you are probably well familiar with award-winning Exchequer gastropub in the city centre. However have your heard about their relatively new wine bar located in Ranelagh Village? Walk (my preference), bike, or take the LUAS down to Ranelagh to visit this stunning and classy wine bar. With a large list of wines by the glass, agreeable service, and small bites on the menu, what’s not to like?
So take a seat at the bar during an evening stroll through this trendy Dublin neighborhood. And don’t forget to ask about their secret wine – can you guess the varietal by taste alone?
9. La Cave
It took me several years to not only notice this wine bar off Grafton Street and hidden above a shop, but to take the opportunity to stop in for a drink. As the reviews mention the place is small (let’s call it cozy), but after a few minutes you’ll instantly forget you’re even in Dublin. It was fully booked when I climbed the stairs with curiosity, but fortunately there were a couple of open seats at the bar.
The French-inspired menu looked appealing, but a sumptuous glass of red wine was all that was required to enjoy a break after shopping that evening. Vive La Cave!
10. Café Bar H
The setting of the Grand Canal Dock is home to shiny modern apartment buildings, the architectural beauty that is the Grand Canal (Bord Gáis Energy) Theatre, and buzzing food and drink establishments overlooking the water. Bar H (I thought it was called H Bar) is a Spanish tapas restaurant that is a feast for the senses. While it doesn’t have the bargain prices for wine and tapas that you get in Spain (I can’t wait to visit the Basque Region), it makes up for in a fun atmosphere and lively setting.
Tip: try to nab a seat outside in the modified buoys that have been turned into snug-like tables. They’re even rain proof!
11. O’Briens Wine Fair and The Corkscrew
OK I’ve added a #11 to my list of the top 10 places to taste wine in Dublin, but this isn’t a wine bar or restaurant at all. First, the annual (or is it sometimes semi-annual?) Wine Fair is hosted by O’Briens, the largest chain of off-license shops in Ireland. The events page on their website lists the fair plus local in-store tasting dates to add to your calendar.
Last time my wife and I attended their mega-event at the Round Room of the Mansion House, we got to taste so many amazing wines while talking to the producers and importers. It was exciting and overwhelming at the same time. You should take careful notes so you can order a mixed case at a discount after the show.
The top-rated Corkscrew wine shop in Dublin on Chathan Street (the recognizable owners are approachable experts on wine) also hosts similar wine tasting events as charity fund-raisers. The last one I attended was for a home-building organization which sent volunteers to South Africa. Sign up for their newsletter in order to get advance notice about this and other wine-themed events.
All images Copyright 2014 Meliovation, courtesy of Sidewalk Safari
As with all SubscribeDublin advice, visit the website of each place to sign up for their email newsletter. Restaurants and wine bars in Dublin without a newsletter usually have a Facebook page that you can ‘Like’ and sometimes a Twitter feed to follow as well. Many of these wine-friendly bars host wine tasting events, so by following or signing up you’ll be the first to know when they are open for booking.
I’m sure I missed at least a few great places to taste wine in Dublin, so this is your chance. Add a comment below with your suggestions and personal recommendations. Where else in Dublin and perhaps in other cities in Ireland get top ratings for their wine selection, knowledge, and atmosphere?